My interest in Palestine began with the 1967 war when I saw a lone Palestinian picketing the student union at the University of Minnesota. Minneapolis media reported the war with a feverish pitch of support for Israel so over the top that I realized with chagrin that we were being played. When I saw the lone picketer, I approached him hoping to get some understanding. At the time, I couldn’t have told you where Palestine or Israel were on a map. His gruff, terse response was “They stole our land.” That’s all I could get out of him but he was probably afraid of getting beaten up–though at the time Zionist aggression, at least in the US, was no where near what it has become.
As a result of that picketer, I looked up the Arab-American club at the university & got involved in Palestine solidarity work, such as it was. But for a small group, we did some fine work. No Palestinians belonged but there were Arabs, mostly from Egypt, who educated me about Palestine. My other teachers were American Jewish socialists & Israeli Jews from Matzpen. Over the years, I’ve found other teachers but my grounding comes from that lone picketer, Egyptian & Palestinian activists, American & Israeli Jews. I only say this, not as a trip down memory lane, but to show the role that Arab & Jewish activists have always played in the struggle against Zionism & for justice for Palestinians.